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2nd Time's a Charm? CB Review May 23-26


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Hello Princess fans. I just returned from the Caribbean Princess. The cruise was May 23-26. It was just a short 3 nighter with only 1 stop at Princess Cays. This was my second Princess cruise. We thought the first was just ok (Ruby), but we weren't the biggest Ruby fans and wanted to try another ship.

 

We booked this cruise last minute and chose this cruise because it was much more appealing than the alternatives. We've been on Majesty of the Seas a thousand times, don't like the Norwegian Sky, and I just can't bring ourselves to book a 3 night Carnival cruise. So CB it was.

 

Embarkation - It is what it is. We knew what to expect since CB cruised out of the same terminal as our previous Ruby cruise. As before, we thought there weren't enough check-in agents for such a large ship and the terminal wasn't the nicest. But whatever...that's not what we booked for. Boarding started at about 12.

 

Ship - Having been on Ruby, we knew how to get around. But for the most part, I like the layout of CB better than Ruby....mainly because you can get to the aft pool using the outside, upper decks. Plus, I like how Skywalkers shades the aft pool.

 

CB was pretty fresh out of dry dock. It was only like a week since coming out. However, if not for reading that here, I never would have known it. Don't get me wrong...the ship did not look bad. It just didn't look fresh. It looked like a ship that's been sailing for a couple years....lots of chipped and faded paint, and broken fixtures, railings and other items here and there. Other than what looked like new carpet in many of the public areas, I'm not sure what they did.

 

One thing I did like better on Ruby was my favorite Princess bar...Crooners. On CB, the bar is in the traffic area whereas on Ruby, it was more tucked away. You couldn't really enjoy the piano if sitting at the bar on CB. That said, the 2 bartenders were excellent, which was a far cry from the rest of the bar service on the ship.

 

Stateroom - We booked last minute, so choices were limited. We booked a guaranteed Oceanview and were assigned P203. The room was not bad, but like we noticed on Ruby, the rooms are noticably smaller than other cruise lines. When the beds are put together, it's up against the wall and you lose your individual reading lamps. Plus, Princess seems to be stuck in the 80s with their decor. There was a flat screen tv, but no interactive technology, and only 2 music channels. The beds were just ok. Nothing to brag about.

 

Service - For the most part, service was pretty darn good, except for the bars. Getting a drink at an outside bar or in Club Fusion was darn near a contact sport. The service was very slow and because people had to wait so long for a drink, it got to the point no one really cared who was there first. If a bartender looked at you, you had to jump on the opportunity and order! As far as the booking, I had a $50 military OBC. But when I got my statement at the end...no credit. Passenger Services said they couldn't do anything to help and told me I need to call Princess today...which I will at some point. What did upset me a little about this though, was Passenger Services told me I should have said something earlier. Earlier when?? This was a 3 day cruise and the OBC was on my booking confirmation. There was nothing to say earlier.

 

Specialty Restaurants - After a disasterous MDR experience on Ruby, we didn't even make an attempt at this MDR. We had Anytime Dining and just didn't want to chance a long wait and ridicuously close tables. Sabatini's was excellent. The service couldn't have been better and we really enjoyed all our courses. Crown Grill - We just can't seem to win at this one. It started off very good with great service and excellent starters. But then, because of a party of 40, everything went to crap. Apparently, when they submitted the 40 orders, all orders got erased from their system. They had to retake our order and the wait time between our soup and main course was 45 minutes. Both the lamb chops and Porterhouse were excellent, but the wait time was disappointing.

 

Buffet - Having now been on 2 Princess cruises, I can say with confidence Princess has the best tasting buffet food. I still don't like the small, congested buffet area that creates bottle necks, but the food is great....for a buffet. This is where we ate dinner on night 3. Call me strange, but my wife and I have gotten to where we prefer the buffet for dinner. It's so much more quiet and less chaotic than the dining room. Plus, the view is much better.

 

Princess Cays - This is where things go to crap. The tendering process was an utter disaster. They made it very clear you could not go pick up tender tickets until your entire party was ready to go ashore. So, at 9:45, my wife and I got into the line that stretched out of the Island restaurant and wrapped all the way around the Piazza and into the art gallery. Little did we know what was ahead of us. The line moved pretty quick, but then came the wait. We had to grab seats in the MDR and finally at 11:30, our numbers were called. Yes, that's an hour and 45 minute wait to get on a tender. It was almost noon by the time we got on the island. Lunch was already being served, so we ate right away and then got in some swim time. We knew we had to rush because the advertised last tender back was 3:00. After swimming a little, we went up to the bar to get a couple drinks. It was 2:05. Too late, because they shut all the bars down at 2! :mad: Another 30 minute wait to get a tender back to the ship. The island was pretty...typical private island set up...nothing too special. But this whole process was a total disappointment. Princess really needs to invest in those large tenders that remain at the island like the other cruise lines use, rather than relying on their lifeboats for tenders.

 

Entertainment - Not bad. Princess uses a lot of live entertainment, which I love. In the Princess Theater, there were 2 comedy acts. The first was a duo of 2 black comedians...I don't remember their names...who were the best comedy act I have ever seen on a cruise. The whole first part of their show was messing with the audience, especially those who arrived late. I don't remember ever laughing this hard at a show. The comedian on night 2 was just ok. He also did the late night adult show, which we did not attend. We would have definitely gone if the other comedians did the show. The third show was the typical singers/dancers act..."Do You Wanna Dance." Nothing special, but it was probably one of the better singers/dancers acts I've seen. The Piazza entertainment was a lot better than Ruby. We loved the Mexican trio, steel drummer and acrobat team.

 

Captain's Circle - Correct me if I'm wrong, but after my previous Ruby cruise, aren't I Gold? I only ask because I received zero benefits and had a blue Cruise Card. Just wondering.

 

Passengers - If there's one thing I've learned from cruising 5 different cruise lines, it's that the same passengers exist on all of them. You get a large group of friendly people from all demographics, but there are always those who stand out....by those, I mean the idiot middle agers who drink too much and are one step away from getting into a fight, the frequent cruisers who want to make sure everyone around them knows how much they love this cruise line and give advice when not asked, the B2B2Bers who act like know-it-alls at trivia because they just played 2 days ago, the groups who try to save a whole row of either deck chairs, theater seats, or both, the line cutters, etc. That's not really a gripe...just an observance. For the most part, people were really nice.

 

Cruise Director Staff - I also noticed this on Ruby...the CD appears before most shows, but that's it. Otherwise, he's non existent. His name was Lee. On other cruise lines, CD's are usually very funny and actively participate in the bigger game show type events. But I'm noticing on Princess, they must really only be figure heads. Don't get me wrong...I really don't care. It's just that usually they are a little better and crwod engagement, so it might be better if he was more visible. Kudos to his deputy, Duke, though. This is the guy who really seemed to run things around that ship.

 

All in All - Comparing this to other 3 night cruises to the Bahamas, it ranked up there at the top. My all time favorite 3 night cruise was on Enchantment of the Seas, but this one ranks a close second. I'd say it's a lot better than Majesty of the Seas and a far cry better than Norwegian Sky. I'd say this cruise was better than my Ruby cruise, which was a 4 nighter. I'm still not a big champion of Princess because they don't seem to have an individual identity that makes them stand out, but I certainly won't hesitate to book them again if, like in this case, the cruise looks a lot nicer than the alternatives.

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As far as the booking, I had a $50 military OBC. But when I got my statement at the end...no credit. Passenger Services said they couldn't do anything to help and told me I need to call Princess today...which I will at some point.

 

Captain's Circle - Correct me if I'm wrong, but after my previous Ruby cruise, aren't I Gold? I only ask because I received zero benefits and had a blue Cruise Card. Just wondering.

 

Ref these 2 points, I spoke with Princess today and was told it takes 3 days for your info to get from the reservations department to the ship. She didn't really know why it takes 3 days. But be that as it may, I booked this cruise 3 days prior to embarkation, so that's the most likely reason for the ship not having my CC status nor OBC info. Good to know for future info.

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Other than what looked like new carpet in many of the public areas, I'm not sure what they did.

 

As far as the booking, I had a $50 military OBC. But when I got my statement at the end...no credit. Passenger Services said they couldn't do anything to help and told me I need to call Princess today...which I will at some point.

 

Captain's Circle - Correct me if I'm wrong, but after my previous Ruby cruise, aren't I Gold? I only ask because I received zero benefits and had a blue Cruise Card. Just wondering.

 

Cruise Director Staff - I also noticed this on Ruby...the CD appears before most shows, but that's it. Otherwise, he's non existent. His name was Lee.

With regard to the dry dock, it was a standard dry dock to do maintenance that can't be done with passengers onboard: scrape and paint the hull, clean and check the thrusters, polish the propeller, check the engines and do whatever maintenance is needed, etc. General interior maintenance is done on a regular basis during cruises with passengers onboard.

 

Whenever you have an onboard credit, it's always a good idea to bring your documentation. Under normal circumstances (a longer cruise ) the Passenger Services Desk will make a copy, fax it to headquarters and the OBC will be applied to your account when approved. Your cruise was too short to do this. :( In the future, you'll know.

 

If your Captain's Circle level hasn't been updated, go to the Captain's Circle host(ess) and they will fix it. Something else to know for the future.

 

As for Lee, what can I say. :( He's not typical nor IMHO representative. Every other CD I've ever had since my first cruise in 1980 and four different lines has been better.

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Ref these 2 points, I spoke with Princess today and was told it takes 3 days for your info to get from the reservations department to the ship. She didn't really know why it takes 3 days. But be that as it may, I booked this cruise 3 days prior to embarkation, so that's the most likely reason for the ship not having my CC status nor OBC info. Good to know for future info.

 

Check back with Princess about your CC status.It sounds as if your Captain's Circle number from your first cruise did not make it to your reservation. Make sure that you now have two cruises to your credit.

 

Since you have proof of your veterans OBC from before the cruise, did they offer to send it you post cruise?

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Since you have proof of your veterans OBC from before the cruise, did they offer to send it you post cruise?

 

Not yet. When I called this morning, they told me to send an email to Customer Relations. I did that, so now it's a waiting game.

 

As for Lee, what can I say. :( He's not typical nor IMHO representative. Every other CD I've ever had since my first cruise in 1980 and four different lines has been better.

 

Good to know. Was he possibly on the Ruby in February? I'm wondering if I had the same CD on both cruises. :confused:

 

Edit...Yes, he was. I just looked at my Ruby review saw it was the same guy. Lee Childers.

Edited by Aquahound
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I was on this same cruise and agree with the comments about the cruise director, we did not see him once during the cruise, but Deputy Duke did a great job. We attended trivia, bingo, other games, cast off party and he was not at any of these events.

The food in the main dining room was delicious, much better than when we were on the Coral in January. The staff were all very pleasant. Getting a drink at any of the bars by the pools was terrible, but did not have any problems at the other bars located inside. On the coral we were able to get large drinks for only a couple of dollars more than the regular size, but they have gotten rid of that and to get a large drink now, it was double the price of the regular, even though you did not get twice as much drink. That was a rip-off. We just stuck with drinking the regular size drinks the remainder of the cruise.

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Getting a drink at an outside bar or in Club Fusion was darn near a contact sport.

 

I was on the same cruise and noticed this as well.

 

I think it was because -- on such a short cruise, there were many, many

people who purchased the drink package.

 

I saw a couple guys drinking beer at 0815 on deck.

 

At the explorers bar, there were some people who were there all

afternoon -- they would look at the bar menu, and say

"Now, I want to try..."

 

The deck bars were so busy on the sea days, that there were

people coming in to the deck 7 bars from the open decks.

 

The result was the bars were packed, and the bartenders were

super-busy. It made it very hard to get served if you wished to

purchase a drink.

 

I also thought that the drink quality had declined -- possibly due

to the package as well.

 

For instance, a mojito is now made with mix, rather than mulling

mint leaves. Much faster for the bartender, but not as good a

drink for the customer.

 

On the other hand, it was not like a short carnival cruise I took.

I didn't see any alcohol induced bad behaviour, or throwing up.

 

We did not want to fight with the main dining rooms, either.

We did Crown Grill / Sabatini's / Crown Grill.

 

Sabatini's was fine.

 

First night Crown Grill was excellent. Last night was poor.

If they had been reversed, we would not have returned the

second time.

 

But, we had so much ship-board credit, that it covered all

the speciality dining and tips, so why not?

Edited by pablo222
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the frequent cruisers who want to make sure everyone around them knows how much they love this cruise line and give advice when not asked

 

My favorite -- when you overhear the pompous people spouting off,

and what they are saying is wrong.

 

They might be annoying, but that can be balanced out with a good

laugh at their expense.

 

I have been on princess a lot, and even when people ask me directly,

I don't like to say how many. To me, it's like bragging about how

much money you have, or something. Not what I was taught as a

child.

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Thank you for your review. Given all the mishaps/problems it is nice to see you rank this 3 day in your top 3 day cruises.:):):)

 

Thanks Michelle. Truthfully, the only thing that I considered a real problem was the tendering debacle at Princess Cays. The rest are just minor quibbles. :)

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After reading several posts it seems that invisibility is Lee's m.o. Unfortunately it looks like he will still be on board when I do my CB cruise in mid August. Not that I tend to interact with CDs all that much...I tend to find CDs and Art Directors to be quite full of themselves and stay away from them....it would just be nice to know they were actually out actively managing what they are responsible for.

 

Glad you enjoyed your cruise for the most part and that you would repeat the experience :)

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We were on the same cruise and agree with the statements regarding the slow tendering process, the free for all bar service and the tired look of the staterooms. Despite the drawbacks, I wholeheartedly agree that the CB was a terrific option for a 3-day weekend cruise, compared to Majesty of the Seas and the NCL Sky. Simply because the CB is a very large ship and has much more to offer in terms of public spaces and things to do. So, I wouldn't hesitate to book the CB for a 3 or 4 day cruise, whenever one becomes available. That being said, there were enough drawbacks that I am very hesitant to take another 7 night cruise on the CB. (We sailed her five years ago out of Ft. Lauderdale on an Eastern Caribbean itinerary and loved it.)

 

 

As for the tenders, if Princess isn't going to pay for a dock at Princess Cay (or can't for logistical reasons), then they should strongly consider doing what I've seen Royal Caribbean do for Coco Cay: use large double decker tenders that stay/belong at the private beach. They carry lots more people and are a lot more efficient at unloading people from the ship. Certainly more accessible for people with physical difficulties. Using the ships small emergency tenders, which they were only filling up in groups of 60 to 80 people at a time, was not acceptable. Especially since the all aboard time was an incredibly early 3 pm. Sorry, but Ft. Lauderdale isn't that far away from the Bahamas. Princess Cay days should last until at least 4:30 pm.

 

As for the bar service, I agree that the long lines had a lot to do with the fact that it was a short weekend cruise and that people took advantage of the unlimited alcohol packages. Still, there were plenty of people like me who just had the drink sticker and wanted a soda refill. Princess should strongly consider putting in the Coke Freestyle Machines in the buffet and elsewhere on the ship, like Royal Caribbean has done on the Allure/Oasis ships. (Not to mention allowing the coke sticker to work on Princess Cay like other cruise lines.) There being no line of any kind at the bars, it really did get to the point that if you could somehow manage to make eye contact with the bartender-- who was always intently looking down until he/she finished with one order--you shouted out what you wanted.

 

Our staterooms had a couple issues that likely fell on the shoulders of the stateroom attendant for not pointing them out to maintenance: i.e.: broken toilet seat; door stop pulled out of the wall and laying on the floor. But, Princess could try to up the quality of the bedding -- the pillows are very small and thin; thin mattress. And, the television channels are not interactive at all. So, no checking your onboard account, looking at the dinner menu, browsing shore excursions, on demand tv, etc. Small stuff, but things that make your experience more enjoyable.

 

I opted to eat in the main dining room (traditional seating) and I was somewhat disappointed. Sad, really. Because I have always liked Princess food on our past 3 Princess cruises (including a 7 nighter on the CB). Food quality is obviously subjective, but we felt it was just okay. Service was spotty. Waiters were very proper in taking food orders from the women first, then men. But, then consistently took plates away from guests the moment they finished their appetizer and immediately served the salad, even if others at the table hadn't finished their current course. (And, continued to do it the rest of the cruise after politely being asked not to do this.) Then, there was consistently the 20 to 25 minute wait between the apps and main meal. Seated at 5:45 pm, done at 7:45 pm.

 

I had a nice time overall and was glad I took this cruise on the CB. Just not sure about whether I would want to take a longer cruise on her.

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Two final notes:

 

As for the bar service, I concur with another poster that the drink quality on mixed drinks was low. I found ours to be very watered down, with hardly any alcohol. Not being a heavy drinker, a long island iced tea should take care of you for a little while. The one I had was very weak. Same with another multi-alcohol drink I ordered. So, I stuck with beer and wine.

 

As for the cruise director, I found it interesting that Sunday's Princess Patter listed a non-denominational Christian service in one of the venues that was being hosted by . . .. the cruise director. I didn't go, but was tempted to go just to see what exactly his role was :-)

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We were also on the same cruise. We book a month ago into a mini suite. The cabins were great. The amenties were great in the cabin. When I became elite, a special credit card size plastic card came from princess with your name and elite on it was delivered at the beginning of your cruise. Now, sister only got a letter on the last night. not very classy.

 

We had any time dining rooms. We went to 6th floor dining room- told 2 top tables were downstairs in the island dining room. Ok. we went there. Got there at 5:30 the first night. The following night Saturday- 5:30 again- all the 2 tops were gone. We were like what- oh they really open their doors at 5:15. No one told us this- nowhere in writing is this. Everyone that came after us were all 2's. Instead of them taking the 4's tables and making them 2- they just couldn't do it. We waited for half hour and finally a table became open. On that Saturday night, the head of the dining room that greets paxs was the most disrespectful person we have run into in a long time. He is totally burned out and really doesn't care. He needs to go to Disney customer training. He should not be in contact with paxs. This was total confrontation for just getting a table. No wonder Princess is losing money. This really left a bad taste for Princess.

We watched every single night for 1.5 hours empty 4, 6, 8, 10 seat tables empty. They were not making use of the space properly or the waiters.

 

They had plenty of fun activities during the day. We noticed the similar waits for drinks.

 

As other people have mentioned, that Saturday night people were saying we won't be sailing ever again on Princess and the non- organization for the tenders was sad. We had gotten off early for the private island. Good.

We haven't sailed on Princess in 3 years, we really noticed the decline. They were number 1 in our books.

Finally, they no longer give you the evaluation on board. They send it to your email and it is a very limited evaluation after the cruise.

We hope that corporate is reading cruise critic.

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As other people have mentioned, that Saturday night people were saying we won't be sailing ever again on Princess and the non- organization for the tenders was sad.

 

I don't know why they didn't operate the itinerary in reverse.

Princess Cays, then a sea day. That way, they could

have stayed at PC as long as they cared to, and had a full

day to get back to Ft. Lauderdale.

 

I never heard what happened with the tenders.

 

There was a group that was called down from the dining room to

deck 4 to board. They waited on deck 4 for an hour.

 

And, I think big drinking the night before made many people late

risers. This made the tender crush later in the morning, and combined

with the early departure created the delay at the end, getting everyone

back on the ship.

 

Because the schedule was so late, all crew shore leave was cancelled.

 

One thing I didn't like about the caribbean was the added International Cafe.

 

On ships like emerald, Mrs. Pablo can both gets seats at the lobby bar.

When it is our turn, she can order a coffee, and I can order a soft drink.

On Carribbean, the lobby bar only has drinks. Coffee is an addition to

the international cafe. So, to get coffee, you have to stand in line,

and then come sit at the bar. I didn't try, but I wonder if you could

get a waitress to serve you at the bar?

 

So, the ships with factory installed i.cafe are a little better!

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And if I could mention one other thing....I appreciate that Princess provides robes to everyone, but it would be nice if they made them in men's size.

 

My husband is 6'4" and those robes are like a mini-dress on him :eek: We always ask our room steward for one of the x-large robes from the spa and have always been given one. They are a much more comfortable fit for a man his size :)

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I don't know why they didn't operate the itinerary in reverse. Princess Cays, then a sea day. That way, they could

have stayed at PC as long as they cared to, and had a full

day to get back to Ft. Lauderdale.

 

Interesting. You're right. That would have made a lot more sense. Is it possible another ship was there on Saturday? Do other Carnival owned ships use that island as well? :confused:

 

One thing I didn't like about the caribbean was the added International Cafe.

 

On ships like emerald, Mrs. Pablo can both gets seats at the lobby bar.

When it is our turn, she can order a coffee, and I can order a soft drink.

On Carribbean, the lobby bar only has drinks. Coffee is an addition to

the international cafe. So, to get coffee, you have to stand in line,

and then come sit at the bar. I didn't try, but I wonder if you could

get a waitress to serve you at the bar?

 

So, the ships with factory installed i.cafe are a little better!

 

I noticed that also. The IC is a much better set up on Ruby than it is on Caribbean.

 

My husband is 6'4" and those robes are like a mini-dress on him :eek: We always ask our room steward for one of the x-large robes from the spa and have always been given one. They are a much more comfortable fit for a man his size :)

 

Wow! I can imagine. I'm only 5'11", but I work out. It looks like a tight dress on me, so I can only imagine what it looks like on someone 6'4". :D

 

I did ask if they had any larger robes and my room attendant just said no. I wish I would have thought (or known) to ask for a spa robe.

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These reviews have me very nervous. I went on star princess last year and loved everything. Great service - everything.

 

We are boarding the CB on may 31 for seven days. This time bringing my whole family. The ship is sold out. Don't know how they will get 3000 people to princess cay - 60 to 80 at a time before 3:00. Not sure how they will be able to improve bar service unless they can get more staff on board.

 

Wish us luck (as well as the other 3000 pax).

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We are boarding the CB on may 31 for seven days. This time bringing my whole family. The ship is sold out. Don't know how they will get 3000 people to princess cay - 60 to 80 at a time before 3:00. Not sure how they will be able to improve bar service unless they can get more staff on board.

 

Wish us luck (as well as the other 3000 pax).

 

My fingers are crossed for you. Let me give you some glimmer of hope. As you can imagine, there were lots complaints being voiced about this process on Sunday. According to the staff, they were not prepared for this many people to want to go to the island. In some small way, that does make sense. This was a 3 night cruise with PC being our only stop, so of course everyone wanted to go ashore. I guess on a longer cruise with more stops, there would be more people wanting to stay on board the ship.

 

But that said, it can't be that big of a difference. I cant see using only life boat tenders on a ship this big as ever being a painless process.

 

Just did the math if 2000 people go to princess cay with two boats with 70 people each and round trip time of 30 minutes would take about 4.7 hours. Does this usually work??

 

They had 4 boats running.

Edited by Aquahound
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